4.23 The Observer, the field of knowledge, and knowledge itself are conjoined in the mind of the perceiver.
This is an advanced stage along the way to direct illumination. The perceiving mind becomes aware of itself as observer and as the medium through which gnosis is conveyed. Hence, this is direct mental-perception; though not yet direct spiritual-perception.
4.24 The perceiving mind becomes the instrument of the Self and the medium through which direct-gnosis is conveyed.
The Yogin, through Yoga’s Eight Limbs, becomes proficient in developing the mind-tool of perception through which direct-union with the Self arises.
4.25 The Yogin now becomes *isolated* (withdrawn into the Self) since he/she now clearly delineates (through the process of direct-perception) between phenomena and the Actual Self.
James Haughton Woods, in his translation of the Yoga Sutras, marvelously characterizes this Forth Book as *Isolation*. This is not being conveyed in a negative sense as one who is put-away for the good and protection of others, but rather as a positive motif of one who is being isolated from some form of dreadful disease—in this case samsara. The yogin, through self-discipline and faithful adherence to the Unborn Will, is now enraptured with this Self-Same-Spirit. In effect, one is indeed now isolated from any negative influences from the lesser-sphere of defiled aggregated existence.
4.26 Now the perceiving faculty experiences the Self as Autonomous and Transcendent from any defiling mind activity.
Recurring thought-streams are now quieted through the resilient Recollective Resolve. The yogin is now empowered to *turn about* from mere surface phenomenlizations and learns to cultivate direct spiritual-perception.
iv. 18-22 The Self is the Master over all thought-constructions.
4.18 The changeless Selfhood of spirit is Master over the churning of incessant thoughts.
Thought being constructed out of the phenomenal mind-stuff is inferior to the Self that is Self-Luminous and all-knowing. The thought-realm is heavy laden with obstructive concerns and is not even able to know the true-nature of itself as knowable objects. The Self alone sheds the Illuminative Light of gnosis over all matter. Hence the Purusha (Self) is the Supreme Lord over all phenomenlizations.
4.19 Thoughts are not capable of self-illumination; they are mere objects of perception.
This sutra should empower one to never give undue heed to the thought-realm. Thoughts are mere objects of perception and not the perceiver. They cannot even perceive themselves. Thoughts can only reflect the Light, like the moon reflecting the Light of the Sun. In and of themselves, they have no illumination to offer—just condensed sensations of refracted Light.
4.20 The thought-realm is self-empty of perceiving subjects and objects simultaneously.
Jaganath Carrea extrapolates:
The mind-stuff can act as subject when it perceives objects or it can be an object of perception itself, but it cannot do both at once, which proves that it is not self-luminous.
I can direct the light of a flashlight on an object or on myself but not on both at the same time. At any given moment, either the object or my body will be in darkness. This is in contrast to the Purusha, which is light itself. It never knows the darkness of ignorance.
In daily life it may seem as if the mind (chitta) can be self-aware and aware of an object simultaneously. For example, I might be aware of my displeasure at the cold wind nipping my cheeks and the colorful Christmas displays I spot as I walk downtown, but not at the same moment. The subjective feeling of dual awareness is due the incredible speed at which the mind can travel back and forth between two thoughts.
[Carrera, Jaganath (2012-06-22). Inside The Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (p. 219-220). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.]
4.21 If a second mind construction were to try to perceive the first one, an infinite number of constructions could be postulated; this would result in utter chaos.
Swami Prabhavananda breaks this down in fine fashion:
If a philosopher—in order to avoid admitting the existence of the Atman—were to suggest that the mind is really two minds, a knower and an object of knowledge, then he would find himself in difficulty. For if mind A is known by mind B, then one must postulate a mind C as the knower of B, a mind D as the knower of C, and so forth. There would be an infinite regress, as in a room walled with mirrors. Furthermore, since each of these minds would have an individual memory, the function of remembering would be reduced to utter confusion. [Yoga Aphorisms of Patañjali, pg 147]
4.22 The Alaya-Consciousness of the Self does not move. Being thus free from the passing phenomenal shadow-realm, Self-Awareness occurs instantaneously. Thus does the Self dwell in Nirabhasagocara (the imageless-realm of no-shadows).
This is true Spiritual Intelligence (Buddhi). The Self-Mind is free to abstain from or to utilize thought-constructions that are under Its own purview. More than this, It never has to engage the passing shadows of discontent that afflict the saha world. It eternally and internally dwells in the imageless-realm of no-shadows known as Nirabhasagocara.
4.12 The Past and Future exists with the momentum on the playing field of Prakriti (the full spectrum and fundamental (natural) matter of Mind materialization).
From the Charles Johnson commentary:
Here we come to a high and difficult matter, which has always been held to be of great moment in the Eastern wisdom: the thought that the division of time into past, present and future is, in great measure, an illusion; that past, present, future all dwell together in the eternal Now.
The discernment of this truth has been held to be so necessarily a part of wisdom, that one of the names of the Enlightened is: “he who has passed beyond the three times: past, present, future.”
So the Western Master said: “Before Abraham was, I am”; and again, “I am with you always, unto the end of the world”; using the eternal present for past and future alike. With the same purpose, the Master speaks of himself as “the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
And a Master of our own days writes: “I feel even irritated at having to use these three clumsy words—past, present, and future. Miserable concepts of the objective phases of the subjective whole, they are about as ill adapted for the purpose, as an axe for fine carving.”
In the eternal Now, both past and future are consummated.
[Patañjali (2011-03-24). The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: the Book of the Spiritual Man (p. 52). . Kindle Edition.]
4.13 A given thing maintains its reality because its essence remains the same throughout various transformations.
The three gunas are essentially the manifestations of one Primal Substance. This is the gut of the Sankhya system, which Patañjali drew heavily upon. Amidst their interaction, sattwa (striving for perfection), rajas (restless activity), and tamas (dullness or inertia), they govern the ebb and flow of all materialized things; henceforth they manage their origin and dissolution as well.
4.14 The essential-core of all things is managed by the gunas measure of transformations.
As was stated in the previous sutra, the gunas administrate the creation and dissolution of a given object. This includes the human form—from the cradle to the grave. In this vein, though thought itself may not recognize a given object, this does not negate its natural reality in the full spectrum of Prakriti.
4.15 Due to the variables of different perceptions within people’s minds, objects appear different given the perceiver; yet, their essential core remains unaltered.
Patañjali leaves room for how differently things can be perceived. This is the nature behind the peculiar perceptions of the habitual-mindset.
4.16 In light of sutra 4.15, objects do not depend upon one single-mindset for their existence; if it did they would simply cease to be if not perceived in singular-fashion.
Here, Patañjali reinforces the understanding that things do not exist that are dependent upon the whims of a given single and limited mindset.
4.17 An object becomes known when colored through the lens of the perceiver.
These few sutras exhibit the limitations of particularized mindsets. An object becomes particularized within a given frame of reference from which it is perceived. Most frames of reference are arbitrary in nature and do not reflect the Natural Essential Core within a given object.
3.46 The Diamond Body has an adamantine hue that harnesses strength.
As the yogin steadily advances in practice, each cell of the body is refined in the fire of spiritual-perfection. The yogin’s body is now a “spiritual-one”, adamantine—as hard as a diamond—the Diamond-Mind-Spirit-Body. This Body yields to no-thing whatsoever in the created order of existence; as written elsewhere within these blogs:
It is forming into that Diamond-Body that is impervious to passing aggregated existence (all former personalized [apart from the Unborn] skandhic forms); indeed, it now develops a Mind that rests on No-thing whatsoever but its True Undivided Kingdom of Self—the Dharmakaya. It now knows the Perfect-Suchness of No-thing arising or descending but rather resting in a Stateless-State of Pure Imageless Actuosity whose Primordial Root neither begins nor ends but simply IS AS IT IS. (from blogpost Bardo 3: Bodhikaya)
Indeed, the yogin has now procured a “mystic alchemical process wherein the sarcophagus of the skandhic-body is cast-off thus empowering the adamantine Diamond Body to emerge unscathed.” (from blogpost Ratnasambhava Rising) The advanced yogin knows with absolute certainty that they are no longer the skandhic-ridden body, but the adamantine Spiritual-Self.
3.47 Through sanyama, the yogin gains Self-Mastery over all sensate functions and how they pertain to the act of perception.
This brings to mind a verse from the Tathagatagarbha Tantra:
“O’ Happy Vision—To realize the indelible Secret Place of the Vanquishers of all evil! Breath from Breath, the Clear Light of Divine Perception Won; the fleshy skandhas extinguished and bothersome no more—I See, O Supreme Lord, that there is nothing that I cannot perceive!” (from The Mandala of the Holy Matrix)
Once strengthened through sambodhi, or the focused and sustained power of enlightened consciousness, all acts of perception are now filtered through the very Amala-consciousness of the Tathagatas themselves; no-longer the body consciousness but a very real Supra-transcendent realization of the Adamantine Mystical Body of the Tathagatas.
3.48 From this the Yogin is now completely freed from the sense organs, as the new supra-sensorial organs of the Diamond-Mind takes precedence.
A reinforcement of sutra 3.47
3.49 The Translucent Self now enjoys Absolute Omniscience.
Now supernally conjoined with the Diamond Mind of Yoga, the yogin’s shared Amala-consciousness is Omniscient over all states of existence. Indeed, thus cooked and prepared in this yogic-fire, even the gods themselves stand in awe of this Transcendent accomplishment.
Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that his own mind neither exists nor doesn’t exist. Mortals keep creating the mind, claiming it exists. And Arhats keep negating the mind, claiming it doesn’t exist. But bodhisattvas and Buddhas neither create nor negate the mind. This is what’s meant by the mind that neither exists nor doesn’t exist. The mind that neither exists nor doesn’t exist is called the Middle Way.
The Middle-Way refers to the self-realization that the Unborn Buddha Mind defies any conceptual reference point. The Dhammapada asks, “Can the transient mind recollect Mind?” How can something devoid of Self, and hence inadequate, ever hope to measure-up to the full-stature of That which is Prior to all aggregated existence? Mind Recollects Mind. Mind is neither created nor negated but THAT which is Uncreate and undefiled.
To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding.
True vision isn’t just seeing seeing. It’s also seeing not seeing. And true understanding isn’t just understanding understanding. It’s also understanding not understanding. If you understand anything, you don’t understand. Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding. Understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding.
Bodhidharma asserts here that “understanding” is a much misused and actually—“misunderstood”—term. Trying to “perceive” the Way of the Buddhadharma through the dim-light of understanding is, in the final run, understanding nothing. Understanding in itself is a mere cognitive trick of trying to perceive and then understand something that really doesn’t exist in the first place. Seeing through imageless-eyes the Dharmadhatu is true vision. True understanding is seeing through the clear-light of no-understanding. Saying “I understand” means that you misunderstand understanding. When one can say, “I understand nothing” is when one actualizes their understanding. To perceive the Buddhadharma is the Way of no-perceiving.
The sutras say, “Not to let go of wisdom is stupidity.” When the mind doesn’t exist, understanding and not understanding are both true. When the mind exists, understanding and not understanding are both false. When you understand, reality depends on you. When you don’t understand, you depend on reality. When reality depends on you, that which isn’t real becomes real. When you depend on reality, that which is real becomes false. When you depend on reality, everything is false. When reality depends on you, everything is true. Thus, the sage doesn’t use his mind to look for reality, or reality to look for his mind, or his mind to look for his mind, or reality to look for reality. His mind doesn’t give rise to reality. And reality doesn’t give rise to his mind. And because both his mind and reality are still, he’s always in samadhi.
It’s a matter of perception. What you apparently understand is based on your perception. Perception is an arbitrary vehicle—it varies from mind to mind. What you perceive reality to be is really based on your own perceptional apparatus and thus you determine reality to be what you want and perceive it to be. When you turn-off your understanding-perceptional-apparatus then you learn to see Reality As It Is—devoid of your own inadequate skandhic-filtering that mistakes the true to be false and the false to be true and reality for unreality. Deep samadhi is when both mind and apparent reality are absent; or, the Still-Dharma-Mind is Samadhi.
This vast throng of spectators is in total awe of the Buddha, sitting majestically upon his royal Lion throne. As they circumambulate-round him clockwise seven times, they lay down at his feet a spectacular parasol (a canopy):
As soon as all these precious parasols had been laid down, suddenly, by the miraculous power of the Lord, they were transformed into a single precious canopy so great that it formed a covering for this entire billion-world galaxy. The surface of the entire billion-world galaxy was reflected in the interior of the great precious canopy, where the total content of this galaxy could be seen: limitless mansions of suns, moons, and stellar bodies; the realms of the devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas, as well as the realms of the four Maharajas; the king of mountains, Mound Sumeru; Mount Himadri, Mount Mucilinda, Mount Mahamucilinda, Mount Gandhamadana, Mount Ratnaparvata, Mount Kalaparvata, Mount Cakravada, Mount Mahacakravada; all the great oceans, rivers, bays torrents, streams, brooks, and springs; finally, all the villages, suburbs, cities, capitals, provinces, and wildernesses. All this could be clearly seen by everyone. And the voices of all the Buddhas of the ten directions could be heard proclaiming their teachings of the Dharma in all the worlds, the sounds reverberating in the space beneath the great precious canopy. At this vision of the magnificent miracle effected by the supernatural power of the Lord Buddha, the entire host was ecstatic, enraptured, astonished, delighted, satisfied, and filled with awe and pleasure. They all bowed down to the Tathagata, withdrew to one side with palms pressed together, and gazed upon him with fixed attention.
Billion-world galaxy(Skt-trisahasramahasahasralokadhatu): Robert Thurman’s note describes this cosmic wonder:
“Lit…three-thousand-great-thousand-world-realm. Each of these is composed of one thousand realms, each of which contains one thousand realms=one thousand to the third power=one billion worlds.”
Quite a mind conundrum when one considers Buddhist cosmology.
One of the young bodhisattvas present, Ratnakara (whom Thurman states has reached the tenth stage [Dharma cloud] of Bodhisattvahood), praises the Blessed One with a hymn and inquires about the nature of the Buddha-fields. The Buddha responds:
The Buddha said, “Noble sons, a buddha-field of bodhisattvas is a field of living beings. Why so? A bodhisattva embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that he causes the development of living beings. He embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that living beings become disciplined. He embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that, through entrance into a buddha-field, living beings are introduced to the buddha-gnosis. He embraces a buddha-field to the same extent that, through entrance into that buddha-field, living beings increase their holy spiritual faculties. Why so? Noble son, a buddha-field of bodhisattvas springs from the aims of living beings.
We can see that a Buddha-field is essentially one that is heavily influenced by a living Buddha—it is a Mind-being, a living idea or Dream of a Buddha—in this sense, YOU are a Dream of a living Buddha, whose field of influence encompasses your own Bodhi-Mind development; a Buddha-field is the nursery of the developing Bodhichild, through which a bodhisattva is spiritually developed through ten mystical stages leading to the mark of Tathagatahood, wherein this mystical-child becomes a member of the Tathata Family…essentially celebrating Mind’s Nirvana.
So, one could say that a Buddha-field is also a Mind-School…one that nurtures the developing gotra (Bodhi-seed) with all the attributes that constitute the self-realization of Noble Wisdom. Hence, the Blessed One commences to describe to Ratnakara all these noble attributes—empathically stating that “purity” is the noble mark and sign that a given Buddha has influenced such a Mind-field development:
The purity of his buddha-field reflects the purity of living beings; the purity of the living beings reflects the purity of his gnosis; the purity of his gnosis reflects the purity of his doctrine; the purity of his doctrine reflects the purity of his transcendental practice; and the purity of his transcendental practice reflects the purity of his own mind.
Next we have good ol’ Sariputra, as he is apt to do often in numerous Sutras, tossing in a monkey-wrench to gum-up the Buddha’s noble deliberations:
Thereupon, magically influenced by the Buddha, the venerable Sariputra had this thought: “If the buddha-field is pure only to the extent that the mind of the bodhisattva is pure, then, when Sakyamuni Buddha was engaged in the career of the bodhisattva, his mind must have been impure. Otherwise, how could this buddha-field appear to be so impure?”
He is saying that if the present saha-realm—which is a sad, soiled reality indeed—is somehow an indicative reflection of Sakyamuni Buddha’s influence…then his own Mind must surely be impure.
The Buddha uses the analogy of the sun and moon…asking if their noble light is somehow intrinsically impure because a blinded one cannot see it…or does the fault lie within the clouded mind of the blinded one himself? As Sariputra answers correctly that the fault lies within the soiled mind of the blind, the Blessed One says that, in like fashion, those who somehow perceive this Buddha-field to be impure is a direct result from their own blinding ignorance (avidya) and not the intrinsic purity of the field.
Next we are treated to a nice little dharma-battle between Sariputra and a great Brahma named Sikhin—who commences by scolding him:
Then the Brahma Sikhin said to the venerable Sariputra, “Reverend Sariputra, do not say that the buddha-field of the Tathagata is impure. Reverend Sariputra, the buddhafield of the Tathagata is pure. I see the splendid expanse of the buddha-field of the Lord Sakyamuni as equal to the splendor of, for example, the abodes of the highest deities.
Sariputra fires back with, yeah, right…you see splendor everywhere, yet I can detect all the highs and the lows within this Saha-realm…the good AND the bad…and it really stinks! Are we on the same page, man???
But the Brahma spits back with:
Brahma Sikhin replied, “The fact that you see such a buddha-field as this as if it were so impure, reverend Sariputra, is a sure sign that there are highs and lows in your mind and that your positive thought in regard to the buddha-gnosis is not pure either. Reverend Sariputra, those whose minds are impartial toward all living beings and whose positive thoughts toward the buddha-gnosis are pure see this buddha-field as perfectly pure.
What happens next simply has to be the most fun-packed action sequence in the whole of sutra-literature…in order to quiet-down this dharma-battle mess before it goes even further:
Thereupon the Lord touched the ground of this billion-world-galactic universe with his big toe, and suddenly it was transformed into a huge mass of precious jewels, a magnificent array of many hundreds of thousands of clusters of precious gems, until it resembled the universe of the Tathagata Ratnavyuha, called Anantagunaratnavyuha. Everyone in the entire assembly was filled with wonder, each perceiving himself seated on a throne of jeweled lotuses.
I just love that image of the Buddha’s big-toe stirring around this whole billion-world enterprise like it was some kind of galactic stew. It then becomes transformed into an all pervasive treasure-chest with everyone present perceiving themselves seated on a majestically jeweled lotus flower. The Blessed One uses this apt image to indicate that it all boils down to one thing—what the Mind perceives becomes its own reality. Sure, if one focuses on shit—then ones perception of the Buddha-field will be a most smelly one indeed. On the other hand, if one remains prior to all the “bull-shit”, then the Buddha-field will empower one to transcend all the crap of samsara, (it’s all just dust in the wind) focusing instead on the absolute splendor and purity of the Dharmakaya Itself.
Having now been purified from all their previous improper mind-conceptions of just what constitutes a purified field of a Tathagata, this chapter comes to an end as the assembly cleanses their Dharma-eye anew.
Mardi Gras is fast approaching with its vast array of spectacular shapes and colors all manifesting into one great orgy, indulging and gorging (Fat Tuesday) oneself before the solemn season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. After studying the Lanka, it’s apparent that this event serves as a metaphor to the greatest movable feast of them all—the Alaya vijnana. You will find in the archive here numerous references to two contrasting principles: The Unmoving Principle and the Moving Principle. It wasn’t apparent until once again going over the Lanka in depth that these two principles can be seen in light of the “twin” effect: the Tathagata garbha and the Alaya vijnana. As we have seen through the study of the Lanka, these two terms are interchangeable as their essential stature is linked together as a mirrored reflection of the womb of suchness: tathata. The Tathagata garbha is Unmoving, motionless, yet utterly dynamic in Its ability to initiate contact with its quite vivacious twin, the Alaya vijnana; although not positioned in the realm of movement, It, in effect, “turns away” from its position-less stature in the Unborn and somehow becomes (animates) enraptured with the moving antics (animations) of Its precocious sibling—something that the Hindu’s describe as Shiva-dancing.
The emphasis within this particular blog is on the Alaya-vijnana and its ability to mirror the animating aptitude of its consanguineous rival, the Tathagata garbha. When not acted upon, this Alaya (receptacle) remains perfectly calm—motionless, just like its counterpart. Yet, once movement is initiated, it becomes a most overly-active child indeed—exploding in a vast array of kaleidoscope activity. This activity is what fascinates the unwary mind and entraps it into the unending chain of events known as dependent origination—perpetually spinning round and round on the rapid roller-coaster ride known as samsara. In this sense, the Alaya vijnana (elements of consciousness) is the absolute master of the saha world; it is the vast reservoir of all images (projections) par excellence. It is Mara’s playground. It also reeks of extreme extrovertism. It is what rules the roost in samsara, heavily and noisily activating its commercialized (endless array of images) patterns over and over and over. It is patterned reality itself and thus truly illusional and delusional in its inability to see that it is just a mirrored reflection of the animating Mind—distorted, just like in a fun-house filled with aberrated mirrors. Yes, it is like an endless run of commercials bombarding the senses (skandhic prism) with an insatiable appetite. Quite a nasty little brat indeed; yet, it is worshipped and held in highest esteem with the powers that be in the saha-kingdom. It is the evil clown on Mardi Gras day because the joke is always on the perceiver of its nefarious antics. It is the no-self (perceiver) as opposed to the Self (not dependent upon perceptions). It is what you see (perceive) as your own apparent reality. It is what holds you spellbound with an incapacity to escape from its ever watchful hold. It is the watcher in the night, making sure that you are always beholden to it alone. It exploits your every move. It is what you Google now with the nefarious ads popping up everywhere on your shoulders and making sure that it’s always inside your head knowing your every move and desire. The grand puppeteer making sure that you dance to its every whim within its movable feast. Yes, it is every move you make and every breath you take…
When one transcends beyond the narrow confines of the sensate faculties (skandhas), the overlords of samsara itself, there is a growing sense of up-rootedness and even fear and trembling at the prospect of surrendering even one’s will into the realm of the unknowable. Yet, taking that next step beyond is a decision to leave behind all former known modes of perception that were, in reality, hindering the adept from entering into the undiscovered and imageless path of the Sacred Unknowable. This essential step is like entering into a Cloud of Unknowing, or what the Buddha would call the Dharmamegha, or Dharma-cloud. Once entering into this Dharma-cloud, even the perceptional demon himself (Mara), loses his ability to shape and control one’s spirit since he is now no longer the master of the game.
This entrance into the Dharma-cloud is a great blessing as one escapes all rules of perception that evaporates in the presence of divine darkness—a luminous light that is dark and obscure for the carnal mind, yet a brilliant primordial luminosity that nudges the sleeping spirit and says, “Awake-awake! Arise from your slumber, a new day is rising!” Even one’s “understanding” departs from itself and is changed from natural to divine; there is no longer a need to acquire “knowledge” itself, since that feeble, perceptionally-handicapped enterprise now gives way to the Bright Bodhicitta that is akin to the Unborn Will Itself.
Within this Sacred Cloud a new day has dawned; one is free to celebrate the beginning of a journey into Unborn Light, when all former attachments and associations fade away into dharmameghic ecstasy. One is now empowered, through the Unborn Spirit, saying, “Take, O Imageless One, all my former memories, understandings, even my entire will—everything conceivable that I used to call my own. Through the self-realization of Noble Wisdom I can see clearer now that You Alone are the Source of my being; I now surrender all my former sensate imperfections and ask to be enlightened through your Unborn Will alone. Give me only your love and grace, for I am rich enough through what You will reveal to me…this I ask and nothing more.”